The Hickory Crawdads kept their slim playoff hopes alive by knocking off the Lakewood BlueClaws 6-2 Tuesday night at FirstEnderty Park in Lakewood, N.J.
Winning pitcher Frank Lopez (3-2) and Jose Monegro held the BlueClaws to two runs on five hits; they also had ten strikeouts between them. Lopez gave up two runs on four hits with six strikeouts in five innings; Monegro picked up his first save of the season with four scoreless innings of work. He gave up one hit and struck out four during that stretch.
The Crawdads (76-57 overall; 35-29, second half of the South Atlantic League season) remain five games behind first-place Hagerstown in the SAL's Northern Division with six games left in the regular season; they're 5 1/2 games behind Greensboro in the wildcard race. Greensboro lost to Delmarva 5-3 Tuesday, and Hagerstown lost to Asheville, 5-4.
Lakewood (50-81; 23-39) grabbed the early lead, thanks to Dylan Cozens' team-leading 16th home run of the year with a man on in the second inning for a 2-0 lead. But the Crawdads responded in the top of the third, scoring three runs on three hits to take a 3-2 advantage. The BlueClaws chipped in by committing two costly errors.
Evan Van Hoosier drove in the first run of the inning with an infield single; Ronald Guzman plated the first of his two RBI with a single to left field. Van Hoosier eventually scored, thanks to back-to-back errors by the BlueClaws.
The Crawdads increased their lead with two more runs in the fourth. Nick Urbanus drove in Marcus Greene with a RBI single; Marte singled and eventually stole home on a double steal. Hickory plated it final run in the seventh on Guzman's RBI single.
The BlueClaws made three errors on the night. Marte and Guzman paced the Crawdads offensively. Marte was 3-4 with a double, he scored twice and he had a stolen base; Guzman went 2-4 with two RBI. The Crawdads made ten hits. Tyler Viza (3-17) suffered his South Atlantic League-leading 17th loss of the year.
The Crawdads take on the BlueClaws tonight at 7:05 p.m. in game two of the three game series.
Crawdads Conclude Season: The Crawdads are wrapping up their 2014 season with a weeklong road trip to Lakewood and Delmarva! Make sure to listen in as the 'Dads battle the BlueClaws and Shorebirds in their final contests of the year! LISTEN LIVE
All-Star Jersey Auction: The Crawdads are auctioning off the authentic, game worn jerseys from this year's South Atlantic League All-Star Game in Hickory! Jerseys from both the Northern and Southern Division players and coaches are up for bid now on the 'Dads online auction page! AUCTION SITE
Stay Connected: Make sure to stay connected with the Crawdads by visiting the 'Dads website at www.hickorycrawdads.com, or by following us on Facebook and Twitter!